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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Making a Shift

I don't write a lot of fiction, but recently I pulled together a short story, of course, based on SOME fact. I'm not sure I know how to do it any other way. It was okay, but something was missing from the approach. It seemed, well, a bit lifeless. Then just a day ago while on a Southwest flight from a conference in Las Vegas, I had an idea. What if I changed the point of view? What if I changed the main character to the narrator? Because I have written so many personal essays and memoir, along with journalism, this little shift hadn't occurred to me, although in retrospect it now seems like a natural approach.

If in personal essay the narrator is YOU, then way can't the narrator be the main character in the fiction, as if YOU were that person. I know this may seem rudimentary, simplistic, junior high English comp class, but here is the bigger point...

When you are working on a story - any genre - and it just seems flat, awkward, off-balance, try making a shift in the POV. Try writing the same story from the narrator's point of view or another character's point of view. Maybe the girlfriend of the main character tells the story, maybe the mother, the father, a boss, a teacher. Sometimes this immediately brings new life to a story, a new sparkle that was missing in the older version. Have fun with it. Play around. It can give a once flat story some depth and texture.

David

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